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Newsletter Articles 2019

4 December 2019

Many New Zealanders will be waking up of Christmas morning with plans to spend time with family, friends or just enjoying the New Zealand summer. Others will be getting ready for work in roles where the work doesn't stop just because Santa has visited.

Many businesses close down over the Christmas and New Year period as a matter of custom as the period includes 4 public holidays. Other businesses are prevented from operating on Christmas Day as it is a restricted trading day in New Zealand.

A number of workplaces providing essential services will always be in operation on Christmas day - such as hospitals, prisons, and the police who will face no less work than any other day of the year. More ...

7 November 2019

It is a general expectation of the employment relationship that an employee follows the rules set by their employer. Typically, failure to follow such rules can amount to misconduct or serious misconduct and can result in disciplinary action.

However, the corollary of this expectation is that, if the employer seeks to rely on these rules to undertake disciplinary action, it has a duty to ensure that the rules are properly promulgated and brought to its employees' attention. More ...

12 September 2019

A recent WorkSafe prosecution demonstrated the extent of the health and safety obligations in respect of company vehicles.

Sorenson Transport Limited was prosecuted by WorkSafe after one of its truck's brakes failed. An employee was injured, and the driver of the other vehicle sustained life changing injuries. WorkSafe investigated the incident and found the truck was not maintained to proper standards, and the brakes were not included on the employer's fleet check sheet.

WorkSafe Chief Inspector Steve Kelly said that Sorenson should have ensured the truck was adequately maintained and established an effective system for identifying and monitoring maintenance requirements.

More ...

1 August 2019

Recent years have seen a significant increase in the health and safety obligations of employers.

The introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) in 2015 saw new responsibilities for employers to manage work-related risks to health and safety. All employers (and other persons conducting a business or undertaking) now have the primary responsibility to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its workers, including providing a healthy and safe work environment.

These changes came alongside an increased focus on mental health and wellbeing. The HSWA defines health as being both physical and mental and the courts have heard a range of cases where the alleged failures to provide a healthy and safe workplace related not to the risk of physical injury, but rather the risk of mental harm or the exacerbation of existing mental health problems. More ...

4 July 2019

The passing of the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 ushered in a range of employment law changes. The change with perhaps the lowest profile was the re-establishment of reinstatement as a primary remedy.

Reinstatement is one of several remedies for a personal grievance that can be awarded by the Employment Relations Authority or the Employment Court. This remedy restores the employee to their former role or to a role that is no less advantageous to the employee.

Prior to the 2018 reform, the law was that if the employee establishes a personal grievance and wished to be reinstated, the Authority or court had the discretion to order reinstatement if it was practicable and reasonable. The law had been that way since 2011. More ...

18 April 2019

On Monday 1 April 2019, the Domestic Violence - Victim Protection Act 2018 came into effect. The Act provides legal protections in the workplace for people affected by domestic violence.

The Act establishes three key entitlements for employees affected by domestic violence: paid domestic violence leave, short-term flexible working and prohibiting adverse treatment on the basis of suspected domestic abuse.

New Zealand is only the second country in the world to legislate mandatory paid domestic violence leave, although in recent years several major companies in New Zealand have implemented policies to address and accommodate the effects of domestic violence. More ...

28 March 2019

Over the last couple of years, organisations' reliance on Payroll systems has left them with widespread underpayment of their employees and significant legal claims.

The Holidays Act 2003 provides minimum leave entitlements for all employees. The entitlements must be calculated in accordance with processes set out in the Act. Failure to provide the full amount owing to the employee under the Act is a breach of the law, even if an underpayment was the result of an accidental miscalculation. More ...

28 January 2019

Trial periods and the ability for employers to dismiss employees 'at will' have been discussed by politicians and the media often in recent years. Trial periods are a tool that allows employees to demonstrate their skills and employers to assess the suitability of the employee for the role. Trial periods allow for dismissal without justification. However, the law is strict as to when they will be valid, and will be even more so once the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 comes into force on 6 May 2019. More ...

Cullen - The Employment Law Firm was one of the first eleven law firms in New Zealand approved to provide employment law services to Government and the public sector.

Cullen - The Employment Law Firm and Women's Refuge are partnering to bring your business an understanding of the effects of domestic violence and the new laws assisting victims of domestic violence at work. Contact us to discuss your needs.

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